Me, in the coming weeks

I go for my COVID-19 second shot on Wednesday. Can’t wait. My boss and I already arranged to take the day off afterwards (she goes on Tuesday) so we can recuperate. Since it’s a common side effect to feel lousy within 24 hours of the second dose, we figured we’d probably need time under a cosy blanket sipping tea and binge watching Shameless.

Moderna is my vaccine and the only side effect I had so far was a tiny headache, a stiff shoulder and COVID arm. It’s a harmless reaction. Just a red bump about two inches around where the shot went in. Turns up a week later and isn’t itchy. But I know the second dose is a doozy, so I’m fully prepared to allow it to bolster my body’s defenses.

And after the first week in May, I’ll be free.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to not wear a mask. No siree. There’s always the possibility I can transmit the disease. I’ll fully protect myself still, until it’s safe and unnecessary.

But it does mean I can have a life after COVID. In anticipation, I’ve already made plans.

My son is serving on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the world, and is coming home in June. During his three-day leave, I’m going to see him. First time in two years! Already booked the hotel and put in for vacation time. He’s excited too, because he knows I’ll bring him homemade cookies and other goodies. Of course, I’m eagerly looking forward to hearing about his worldwide travels as well. Unfortunately because of COVID, Son only saw the world from the upper decks of the ship or what was in view from the port. Still, it was his first adventure and he can’t wait to tell me about it.

He’s not the only one I’m busting to see.

My cousins, whose mother and my aunt passed away recently. Haven’t had a chance to properly mourn her passing nor visit with them. Now we can. Or my dear friend who hasn’t been able to travel out of New York City. He can’t wait to hop the train and park himself at my picnic table for some beer and live, in-person conversation. That weekend my sister and our close friends put on hold because of the pandemic? Back on schedule. We’re even going to celebrate my friend’s graduate degree, awarded last year without a proper party. Also planning a rail trail bike day trip with my oldest friend in the world. I’m even going to a wedding reception! Friends of mine whose wedding got cancelled (a justice of the peace married them with nine people in attendance) is back on, albeit a tad different than a pandemic-free event. The wedding venue has a side-free tent, with tables at its edges, all placed well apart. They’ve guaranteed it won’t rain.

While none of the above might’ve seemed so exciting in 2019, I assure you in 2021 it’s the most amazing thing ever. I’ve gained an overdue appreciation of the small things in life. Untangling my married life clouded my perspective. The pandemic and its isolation made me appreciate it again.

Even yesterday, I went to an art show opening. It was quiet, lacking the reception it should’ve had. The amount of people allowed inside at one time was limited. So wonderful, though, to wander through the galleries, eyeing the works displayed on the walls, comparing one’s style to another. The works were all landscapes, painted during 2020, interpreted by the artists as they contemplated navigating nature while in a shut down society. Red sunsets, an isolated tree in a field, a woman kneeling before a waterfall. Couldn’t help but think each of these works somehow represented the artists’ thoughts of loneliness.

So nice though, to be someplace else and engaging in an activity other than discussing the pandemic or how lousy things are. It felt human. I felt human.

On the way home, I stopped at the local ice cream stand that just opened and got a chocolate shake, then headed over to my favorite restaurant for a cheeseburger and fries. Sat in the kitchen and savored it all.

Soon, I’ll have my friends and family around me once again. We’ll have a barbecue picnic. Won’t that be nice?

All because we believe in science, got our shots, and continued on with our lives.

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